GSKWR Alums: Nora Denning, Anna Overmann & Jeanna Panella – Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things

“The journey of a lifetime is what Girl Scouts is all about,” said Nora Denning, GSKWR alum. Nora and her two triplet sisters Anna and Jeanna grew up in a Lexington Girl Scout Troop, led by their mom, Jill Heink from kindergarten through high school. Now as young adults, Nora, Anna & Jeanna look back at their Girl Scout experience as fun, formative, and confidence-building.

As inspiring young women, Nora, Anna, and Jeanna have pursued their unique personal and professional interests. Anna lives in Lexington and is a fourth-year medical student at UK. She graduated from the University of Dayton, where she was on crew. She received her Master’s in Zoology from Washington State University and worked in Pediatric Endocrine research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital before entering medical school. Nora lives in Cincinnati and teaches Latin at St. Xavier High School. She graduated from Xavier University where she played in pep band and in the pit for musicals. She also plays bluegrass with White Line Fever and is currently performing with the all-female bluegrass group Ma Crow & Co. Jeanna lives in Hudson, OH and works as a PV (PhotoVoltaic) Performance Engineer for First Solar, Inc. She graduated from the University of Dayton, where she rowed on the Division I Crew team.

While Anna, Nora, and Jeanna have unique interests and career aspirations, they all share a love of the outdoors – whether through hiking, running, camping or gardening, they attribute their outdoor hobbies to their time in Girl Scouts. While Girl Scout Cookies are easily loved by all, Anna reflected on her outdoor-centric Girl Scouting experience saying, “We weren’t the cookie, crafting troop.” From regular campouts, to hiking, sailing lessons and running 5Ks, the girls had expansive new experiences that left a lifelong impact and passion for outdoor adventures.

The wide range of opportunities that Girl Scouts offered truly made the biggest impact on Nora, Anna, and Jeanna. Their mom Jill said, “Girl Scouts is the time to try everything, get out there and talk to other people.” She went on to explain that while many extra-curricular activities are competition-based, Girl Scouts fosters girls’ ability to work together. The girls noted that Girl Scouts taught them how to be confident in their ability to pursue new opportunities, ask questions, and talk to other people to tap into resources. From organizing a trip to Canada, to coordinating the renovation of a local community playground, Girl Scouts forced the girls to take leadership roles at a young age and learn how to take initiative. When you try new things, sometimes there’s a learning curve –– Nora joked about a time when she capsized her boat on the lake at summer camp, and while she was discouraged at first, she learned there was a funny tradition where anyone who capsized a boat at the camp got to sign a plaque, and that reminded her that she wasn’t alone. It’s okay to try to things and make mistakes – that’s part of the process.

Jeanna, Anna, and Nora all achieved their Girl Scout Gold Awards and view Girl Scouts as a ‘lifetime deal’. What’s their advice to younger Girl Scouts? “Just try things! You don’t need to be afraid of if you’re going to fail.” Trying new things through the Girl Scout experience left a lifelong impact on these Girl Scouts, and through their experiences, they’re impacting the world. Challenge girls to change our world – and they will!

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